How Delhi-based BeatO is tapping technology to help India monitor and beat diabetes
When Yash Sehgal was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, he started looking for a single platform that could answer all his queries and help track and manage his condition. To his surprise, he couldn’t find one.
This, considering that India is well known as the “diabetes capital” of the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people with diabetes is rising rapidly in middle and low-income countries, and it is estimated that there will be around 100 million people with diabetes in India by 2030.
Seeing this gap, Yash, who had worked with a large corporate house in Europe and has more than 16 years of experience, and his school friend Gautam Chopra, decided to start BeatO in 2015. The full-stack platform provides information on, and products for diabetes management.
Since 2015, BeatO has expanded to serve 50,000 diabetic customers in over 1,500 cities since last year, and is currently fulfilling 15,000 transactions in a month. The app has seen over 100,000 downloads on Play Store. It had raised $1.3 million in April last year led by Leo Capital and co-led by Blume Ventures.
Speaking of BeatO's journey, Arpit Agarwal, Principal of Blume Ventures, says,
“Through this journey, working closely with the founders for more than a year, we have managed to create a very sticky user base with very limited capital.”
“We put the user first. Our entire proposition is centred on fulfilling the needs of the average Indian middle-class consumer who has diabetes. Most importantly, with our approach, data reveals that we are able to drive improved sugar control through small nudges in our user population,” says Gautam, who has worked with Lufthansa in Germany earlier.
Kunal Kinalekar, CTO, BeatO, Gautam Chopra, CEO and Co-founder, BeatO, Anup Jain Orios Venture Partners and Yash Sehgal, COO and Co-founder BeatO
What does BeatO do?
The BeatO app is connected to a glucometer, which can be plugged into the audio or charging port of a smartphone. The glucometer takes a reading like a traditional meter; this appears on the app, is auto saved, and conveniently organised in the apps’ digital diary.
The user can analyse trends, and share them with in-house caregivers instantly. They can also set instant alerts, which are sent to caregivers in case readings are high or low.
All readings are colour-coded and are also instantly shared with the BeatO diabetes specialists team. The team comprises doctors and dieticians who then provide real-time guidance and intervention if readings are out of the desired range.
“We did this by focusing on a solution that is a combination of technology and healthcare, but keeps the user at the centre,” Gautam says.
End-to-end diabetes management
The app looks at everything diabetes-related. It provides nutrition tools to help users identify foods that are safe to eat and in what quantity, based on glycemic index (this represents the relative ability of a carbohydrate-rich food to increase the level of glucose in the blood.)
It also helps manage the diet with its own range of specialty, diabetes-friendly foods such as cereals, snacks, seeds, detox drinks, organic rice, and teas. Users can connect with diabetes specialists and sync their fitness trackers such as Google Fit, Fitbit and Healthkit on the app to manage their workout schedules.
“There is a content section on the app that allows people to read articles and watch videos on healthy recipes, tips by qualified doctors, and yoga for diabetics. Besides these, BeatO has also recently forayed into providing special, cost-effective insurance plans for people with diabetes,” Gautam says.
Something that looked at different things
One of the reasons the team decided to add different aspects related to diabetes care is because they realised managing diabetes is an everyday task, and it wasn’t possible to meet a doctor or an expert for every little question.
“One needs to look after multiple things, be it diet, exercise, monitoring, or medicines. All this needs time, effort, and knowledge. With BeatO, we wanted to make this overwhelming task easy and effortless for a person diagnosed with diabetes,” Gautam says.
He adds that the gap in healthcare for chronic conditions needed to be addressed. The co-founders raised seed funding from family and friends to build the initial app and device. They set up the core team using references; the team has now grown to 40 members.
How does the device work?
After a lot of trial and errors, Yash and Gautam decided the instrument “should be lightweight and easy to use”. The device currently weighs nine grams and can easily fit into a pocket.
The first challenge, however, was that despite the sizeable diabetic population in India, the team needed to be innovative and proactive to build a compelling proposition that could be available on multiple channels.
The product also needed to be backed with the right certifications. For this, BeatO tied up with FSSAI-registered and GMP-certified facilities in India. Their glucometers and strips are manufactured in ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 13485:2012 certified facilities in China and India.
The smartphone glucometer can be purchased on all ecommerce sites and e-pharmacies, and also through special offers with multiple partners in the B2B segment. The product is priced from Rs 499 to Rs 1499, depending on the number of strips needed.
BeatO's food and retail is available only via their app and website. The food and snacks range is priced between Rs 100 and Rs 250. The Delhi-based startup currently competes with Wellthy Therapeutics, which operates in the same space. Cipla, India’s third largest drugmaker, acquired a 11.71 percent stake in Wellthy in February for Rs 10.5 crore.
Last week, it raised Rs 11.75 crore funding led by Orios Venture Partners. Existing investors Blume Ventures, Leo Capital, and Vishal Sampat also participated in the round.
BeatO aims to use the funds to expand its user base and revenue. The team also plans to increase its product offerings, invest in Research & Development (R&D), and upgrade its platform for auto-suggestions based on blood sugar readings.